Project 1: Rhetorical Analysis (Fall 2015)

Introduction/Rationale

The analysis essay is a common college assignment across many different majors. Simply put, analysis focuses on describing how something works by breaking it down and examining its various components. In this version of the analysis essay, the something you’ll study are examples of non-fiction writing designed to persuade readers to take action. To do your analysis, you will use rhetorical analysis, which is an advanced reading strategy used to explore how rhetorical messages work in specific situations.

This assignment has three main goals:

  1. to develop your understanding of key rhetorical concepts (rhetorical situation, types of arguments, and persuasive appeals),
  2. to provide you with practice using rhetorical concepts as a reading strategy to read and analyze types of writing,
  3. to give you practice writing in the genre of the academic essay.

As your instructor, I will use this assignment to assess your achievement across all three of these goals.

The texts you will read and analyze for this project come from mainstream scenes of writing or position-oriented blogs.

You will choose one of these four texts to read and analyze for this assignment:

Lukianoff, Greg and Jonathan Haidt. “The Coddling of the American Mind.” The Atlantic. Sep. 2015. Web.http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

Flanagan, Caitlyn. “That’s Not Funny.” The Atlantic. Sep. 2015. Web. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/thats-not-funny/399335/

Sanneh, Kelefa. “The Hell You Say.” The New Yorker. 10 Aug. 2015. Web. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/10/the-hell-you-say

Hanlon, Aaron R. “The Trigger Warning Myth.” The Republic. 14 Aug. 2015. Web. http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122543/trigger-warning-myth

Assignment Prompt
Write a 1500-2000–word paper that identifies, describes, and analyzes the argumentative and rhetorical strategies used by the author of the article you are assigned to study. Here’s the basic outline of the essay:

  1. Summary of article and description of article’s rhetorical situation
  2. Introduction
  3. Analysis of article
  4. Claim/Conclusion

Your analysis should focus on identifying and describing four different components of the writer’s argument:

  1. Type of argument-identify and describe the different types of arguments (i.e., definition, evaluation, causation, proposal, rebuttal) used in the article being studied by including specific examples from the text to prove your point
  2. Ethos-describe how the author of the article makes themselves appear credible and trustworthy for the article’s target audience using examples from the text to demonstrate your point.
  3. Pathos-describe how the author of the article appeals to the emotions and/or beliefs of the article’s target audience using examples from the text to demonstrate your point.
  4. Logos-describe how the author of the article appeals to logic to target the audience’s expectations for appropriate supporting evidence using examples from the text to demonstrate your point. Identify and describe at least one enthymeme used in the article.
  1. In addition to the body of your essay where you’ll present your analysis, your paper should include three additional components:
  1. Introduction (1 paragraph)-introduce the topic and purpose of your paper (e.g., the ways writers attempt to communicate with readers about police brutality, etc.) and foreshadow your evaluative claim about the article being studied (see conclusion).
  2. Summary (1 paragraph)-in a short paragraph, summarize the article being studied and describe the rhetorical situation of the article using the definition of rhetorical situation provided in chapter one of The Wayne Writer.
  3. Claim/Conclusion (2-3 paragraphs)-develop an evaluative claim about the persuasive strategies used in the article being studied. Strong essays will develop the evaluative claim in terms of particular elements of the article’s rhetorical situation (e.g., audience, purpose, etc.). As an example, you might argue that the article is generally ineffective because it fails to adequately anticipate the needs and expectations of its target audience.

Essay Organization and Formatting

The analysis essay genre is described in Chapter 7 of The Wayne Writer. Included below is a detailed outline for the essay which includes all of the different sections described above. Supporting materials for each section are included in parentheses.

I. Introduction

  1. introduce topic (e.g., the ways writers attempt to communicate with readers about gun violence, etc.)
  2. state purpose of your essay (“In this essay, I will explore…”)
  3. introduce or foreshadow your evaluative claim (“I argue that…”)

II. Summary/Rhetorical Situation Description

  1. summarize the article
  2. describe the author’s rhetorical situation (TWW, chapter 1)

III. Analysis (TWW 7)

  1. identify and describe the main kinds of arguments used in the article (TWW, chapters 5 and 6)
  2. identify and describe the author’s use of ethos
  3. identify and describe the author’s use of pathos
  4. identify and describe the author’s use of logic and at least one enthymeme used in the article

IV. Claim/Conclusion

  1. develop an evaluative claim about the article (TWW, chapter 6; “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”)

outline doc

outline doc for “College Calculus”–just started, not finished

Bolded headings, similar to the headings used in this document, can be used to separate the different sections of the essay (a template for the essay is included below).

The essay must also have a title that identifies the topic of the paper (e.g., An Analysis of “Article X”) and may have a “hook” that gives readers some sense of the paper’s main idea. Here are some examples from previous papers:

“Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire: A Rhetorical Analysis of ‘Climate Change Crisis’”

“Playing the Logic Game: An Analysis of Logos in Edward Wilson’s ‘Apocalypse Now’”

Essay Minimum Requirements

  • 1500-2000 words
  • typed; double-spaced
  • formatted for MLA style
  • written in formal, edited English
  • essay must accurately identify and describe the types of argument used in the article
  • essay must persuasively describe the uses of ethos, pathos, and logos in the article
  • essay must develop an evaluative claim about the article

Due Date

  • Your final draft of P1 is due to Blackboard by [date].

Grading

Your grade for the rhetorical analysis project will be averaged with your grades for the other four major projects you complete in the course. A grading rubric for the assignment is listed below.

Features Excellent

(95)

Acceptable

(85)

Needs Revision

(70)

Missing

(0)

Introduction
Does the beginning of the essay introduce the topic? (e.g., how writers attempt to communicate with readers about college debt, etc.)
Does the introduction state the purpose of the essay? (“In this essay, I will explore…”)
Does the beginning of the essay introduce or foreshadow the paper’s evaluative claim? (“I argue that…”)
Summary
Do you accurately summarize the article being studied?
Do you accurately describe the rhetorical situation of the article?
Analysis
Do you accurately identify the different types of arguments used in the article using specific examples from the text to prove your point?
Do you provide a persuasive description of how the author attempts to create a sense of credibility and trustworthiness with specific examples from the article?
Do you provide a persuasive description of how the author attempts to appeal to the emotions and beliefs of the target audience with specific examples from the article?
Do you provide a persuasive description of how the author attempts to appeal to logic and the target audience’s expectations for appropriate supporting evidence? If it is relevant, do you identify and describe at least one enthymeme used in the article?
Claim/Conclusion
Do you develop an evaluative claim about the article based on the text’s rhetorical situation?
Clear and Effective Writing
Is your paper edited and polished for presentation?
Did you format your paper using MLA style?
Organization
Do you present your ideas using a general to particular pattern that flows logically from one point to the next?

Learning Outcomes

Writing

  • Compose persuasive academic genres, including argument and analysis, using rhetorical and genre awareness.
    • You’ll practice demonstrating understanding of rhetorical concepts: scene, genre, rhetorical situation, argument, and persuasive appeals.
  • Use a flexible writing process that includes brainstorming/inventing ideas, planning, drafting, giving and receiving feedback, revising, editing, and publishing.
    • You’ll practice the MLA-style analysis essay genre.

Reading

  • Use reading strategies in order to identify, analyze, evaluate, and respond to arguments, rhetorical elements, and genre conventions in college-level texts and other media.
    • You’ll use the concepts of scene, genre, rhetorical situation, argument, and persuasive appeals as a reading strategy.

Researching

  • Use a flexible research process to find, evaluate, and use information from secondary sources to support and formulate new ideas and arguments.
    • You’ll use the concepts in The Wayne Writer and Carroll’s “Backpacks vs. Briefcases” to formulate new ideas and arguments to analyze other texts.

Sample Student Essays for Discussion

Student Sample rhetorical analysis 1

 

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